The Most Affordable Cities in Washington–and They’re Charming Too

When you think of Washington, the first things that come to mind are usually apples, natural beauty and mild weather.

Yet, those who live in this Pacific Northwest state also know it offers great deals on housing, health care, groceries and utilities.

Using our tried-and-true methodology, Livability.com has come up with a list of the five most affordable cities in Washington. But this isn’t just a tally of cheap cities. Instead, quality of life was considered along with data from other cities to find the best bang for your residential buck.

Here’s a list of the most affordable cities in Washington state:

1.Olympia, Wash.

2.Richland, Wash.

3.Bothell, Wash.

4.Auburn, Wash.

5.Redmond, Wash.

1. Olympia
The state capital, Olympia has boating and fishing opportunities in Puget Sound, to-die-for seafood restaurants along the waterfront, and a growing arts community. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Rainier, which is a little more than an hour drive from the city.

Here the median household income is $52,834 with the median home price coming in at $240,800, which is lower than the state average.

2. Richland
A part of the Tri-Cities area, which includes Pasco and Kennewick, Richland’s history is wrapped up in the Manhattan Project facility at the Hanford nuclear site.

The city is still known as a technology hub. The median household income is an impressive $69,372, while the median home price is $200,800. Residents enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and biking on an extensive trail system, golfing and water sports on the Columbia and Yakima rivers.

The area has some of the most fertile agricultural land in the state, which is good for growing crops such as wine grapes and potatoes.

Richland is home to a renaissance fair, a classic car and street rod event and music and arts festivals.

3. Bothell
Those who want to live close to Seattle but don’t want to pay its expensive cost of living prices often chose Bothell as a more affordable alternative.The median home price is $344,600 – not too bad for this area. The median household income is $75,643.

While logging is mostly in the past, Bothell residents celebrate their own culture such as walks in urban/rural parks, a 1880s Pioneer Cemetery and a lavish Fourth of July event known as the Freedom Festival.

4. Auburn
A little east of Tacoma and south of Seattle, Auburn provides a gateway to both major metropolitan areas. And that’s a good thing, as the city is a transportation hub with major roadways and the Transit Center, a station that provides bus, light rail and Sounder train service to the Puget Sound area. Those who live here can expect a median home price of $231,200, with a median household income of $57,635.

Thoroughbred horse racing at Emerald Downs, golf and performing arts are just some of the attractions that entertain residents.

5. Redmond
A high-tech city, Redmond is the home headquarters to computer software king Microsoft and videogaming systems company Nintendo of America. The city has also been recognized as a Best Place to Live and Top 99 Beer City.

In addition to the tech industry, Redmond is also known as the “Bicycle Capital of the Northwest.” The Redmond Bike Derby, which is held during the summer’s Derby Days, is the longest running bicycle race in North America. With an extensive network of off- and on-street bike lanes and trails, Redmond also boasts a large share of bicycling commuters, so residents save on automobile purchases, car insurance prices and gas.

The median home price is a robust $462,200. However, residents here also command higher salaries, with a median household income of $99,586. In fact, Redmond is so great that it landed a spot on the 2018 Top 100 Best Places to Live list.

~Bonnie Burch, Market Watch

Seattle’s Condo Conundrum: Historically Low Supply

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Seattle is experiencing a historic shortage of condos, as developers choose to build apartments rather than market-ready living spaces.

One reason for the shortage is an unusually stringent state condo law that makes it easier for condo owners to sue developers for construction defects.

“This is really an affordable housing issue,” said Kerry Bucklin, condo attorney with Bucklin/Evens in Seattle. “We need more housing. And in order to have more housing, we need to stop suing developers over ticky-tack complaints.”

There are only four tower developments currently slated to include condos in the downtown core.

Before 1999, King County had an average of around 2,000 condos on the market for buyers to purchase. Today, it’s lower than 350 — a record low.

Dean Jones with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty says clarifying the law is one of several steps that can be taken.”The only solution I see to this affordability crisis on market-rate housing is reduce the headwinds that developers face in getting permitted products,” he said.

One foreign developer sees the void of condos and is ready to take a risk on Seattle. Dali Development from Taiwan has plans to construct the KODA tower at 5th Avenue and Main Street in Seattle’s International District. It’s slated to have 17 floors and 202 units, and will soon hit the market with condos between 400-1,124 square feet for up to $1 million.

“A lot of developers are looking to diversify their portfolio, and Seattle is the place to be,” said Kevin Hsieh with Dali Development.

“Also, Amazon is huge in Asia right now, so it’s become the most attractive place on the West Coast when it comes to growth and potential. Seattle is the city of the future right now,” said Hsieh.

~Jake Wittenberg, KING